Little Boy Blue: Hard-hitting drama recounts the story of a murder that shocked the nation

The retelling of the events that followed the murder of 11-year-old Croxteth boy Rhys Jones are available to watch on BritBox. Here’s everything you need to know about the 2017 drama.

By Sophia Moir Published: 1 October 2020 - 11.37am
ITV

The critically acclaimed ITV drama Little Boy Blue, which told the story of the investigation into the 2007 murder of Liverpool youngster Rhys Jones, is now available to watch on BritBox.

Here’s all you need to know about the four-part series.

What is Little Boy Blue about?

Little Boy Blue recounts the true story of the investigation into 2007 murder of 11-year-old Rhys Jones.

Rhys was shot as he walked home from football practice in Croxteth, Liverpool. His murder shocked the city of Liverpool and the country as a whole, with the young boy a tragic random target.

Little Boy Blue focuses on the aftermath of the horrendous crime, including Rhys’s parents Melanie and Steve’s ordeal and the investigation into Rhys’s murder – focusing on the work of Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly and his team. 

Following the police investigation into Rhys’s murder, Sean Mercer, a gang member was found guilty of the crime. He had ridden past Rhys on a bike and shot him as he crossed the Fir Tree Pub car park in Croxteth. A further six gang members were convicted of charges relating to the crime.

Little Boy Blue Rhys ITV

How can I watch Little Boy Blue?

You can watch all four episodes on Little Boy Blue on the BritBox subscription streaming service.

Who is in the Little Boy Blue cast?

Stephen Graham, who you might know from Line of Duty, This is England, Decline and Fall and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, plays Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly. He was born about 10 minutes away from where Rhys grew up.

Detective Superintendent Kelly used to take a pickaxe handle – called The Persuader - into morning meetings. After he retired he kept it at home with him and Graham borrowed it to use during filming of Little Boy Blue, rather than using a replica.

“We have a duty to honour the spirit and memory of Rhys. As a society we should never let this happen again,” said Graham.

“Hopefully Little Boy Blue will make people stop and think for a little bit. The only way things are going to change is if we make changes ourselves.”

Sinead Keenan (Being Human, Deep Water) plays Rhys’s mother Melanie and Brian F O’Byrne (Million Dollar Baby) plays his father Steve.

“There is always a certain amount of trepidation when you are asked to play a real person who is still alive. It was a bit daunting,” said Keenan.

“You have to be very respectful of the fact this is somebody’s life and their very worst and darkest moments. You just hope to God you get it right for them.”

Little Boy Blue was written by Bafta-winning screenwriter and executive producer Jeff Pope. Pope has also scripted the dramas A Confession, Cilla and Hatton Garden for ITV as well as the movies Philomena and Stan & Ollie.

Little Boy Blue cast ITV

Where was Little Boy Blue filmed?

Little Boy Blue was filmed as much as possible on location throughout Liverpool and the north west of England.

One key real moment reconstructed by the programme-makers took place at Goodison Park, the home of Everton football team. Rhys was a huge Everton fan. A touching tribute was paid to Rhys before Everton’s match against Blackburn just after the murder in August 2007 – with his parents in attendance.

Programme-makers recreated this tribute for Little Boy Blue with the help of fans during an Everton match against West Ham in October 2016.

“There’s a sequence in the first episode where we film a minute’s applause for Rhys at Goodison Park, home of Everton Football Club,” said producer Kwadjo Dajan.

“We advertised this in the week leading up to the shoot, and were stunned when all 39,000 in the crowd gave up their half-time break to participate in our film. They clapped us on to the pitch and perfectly observed the minute’s applause.

“And then applauded us going off the pitch. It was a truly special experience. I still get goose bumps thinking about it now. 

Production also had permission to film in the specific courtroom at Liverpool Crown Court used for the original trial, as well as Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, where Rhys’s funeral took place. However, the Fir Tree pub car park was not used as a filming location.

Watch the Little Boy Blue trailer

Watch all four episodes of Little Boy Blue on BritBox.